The gift of an experience is something that will never end up in a landfill or at the bottom of a junk drawer. A great experience gift can create memories that last a lifetime. A less-than-great, or an unusual experience should at least get you plenty of laughs on your next girls’ night out. That’s how this one went for me…
My Craziest Experience Gift…. (so far)
My neighbor was approaching a milestone birthday, and some friends and I were looking for something out of the ordinary. She’s an athletic gal, and always up for a challenge. So when she mentioned that her daughter’s gymnastics place was going to start offering adult gymnastics — we knew that was going to be our gift to her.
So we all signed up for the class and spent the next week speculating how much “gymnastics” would really be involved. Some of us had taken lessons as little girls, but none of us had been Olympic material, so we decided it would probably be more “exercise” than balance beams and tumbling.
The big birthday arrived. And as that day went on, half our group came up with excuses and bailed. Can’t say I didn’t think about trying to get out of it too, but curiosity and not wanting to be a party pooper won out. So our smaller group arrived to be the only three participants in adult gymnastics. I thought maybe they’d cancel the program and we could stop for birthday frozen yogurt on the way home, but the instructor said he was happy to start small…maybe it would catch on… he’s never taught adults before so “you can be the guinea pigs” and a few other cliches I can’t recall.
There was a waiting room, filled with parents watching their kids through a one way mirror/window. It would be reassuring if you’re the parent, but I know that if I were behind that window, I’d be tempted to make fun of us.
Nevertheless, we filled out our medical release forms. (Do you think they really wanted my dad’s phone number and address?) And off we went into the enormous gym. The smell of sweat, chalk and feet hit us instantly. It brought back memories of my old gym. Only this was much bigger, more crowded — and MUCH smellier.
Throughout the class, I realized gymnastics hasn’t changed much in 20 years – the techniques, the leotards (on the kids, not us), and the equipment in general. Even the praise and criticism for my abilities were the same. The positive: a compliment that my cartwheel was graceful. The negative: “Can’t you make your elbows stop bending out like that?”
Like I can help being double-jointed. I’m sure Mary Lou Retton had her flaws.
As we stretched into splits (or the closest semblance to splits women in their 30′s can manage) the instructor noticed how my left wrist won’t bend into a 90 degree angle. He then pointed out a knot in it and diagnosed it as a Ganglion cyst. Not one to like being called out, I assured him that was just a bone.
He looked at me like I had another cyst growing out of the center of my forehead.
So I explained how that wrist’s fate was sealed from tumbling on the tile-over-concrete floor of my Catholic school gym… and then again in the late 90′s in a kickboxing class. He used some big, P.E. class words about bones and joints and said there’s no way that could be a bone. Then my friends and some of the young girls bent their wrists down, and no one else had a bulging “bone” in their wrist.
So I listened politely and made a hypochondriac mental Note to Self: Google Godzilla… I mean Ganglion cyst and shifted my gave to the uneven bars, since he had said that’s where we would start. He seemed to understand that I was ready to move on, and we did the bars balance beam and trampoline.
The good news is… that after several laughable attempts, I can still do a cartwheel on the low balance beam.
The bad news is… that after two babies, it’s really hard to jump on a trampoline without feeling like you need Depends. Another Note to Self: next time (if there is a next time), ask if we can start with Kegel exercises.
Resisting bathroom urges aside, jumping on the trampoline was fun. My neighbor’s kids have one, so the seat, knee and belly fall-backs were a breeze for her. They weren’t so hard for me, until he shouted some combinations. I wasn’t getting high enough to turn around in the air, so he said to put my arms down to the side as I fell back.
With less than a second to think, I did it. My arms went straight down, which forced my hands flat on the trampoline…. Which meant my wrists were forced into a 90 degree angle.
I popped back up holding my wrist, trying to get my balance (looking the exact opposite of graceful), while whining and swearing. My friend later told me it was something like, “holy freakin’ livin’ sh!” but that she didn’t think the 10-year olds heard.
The instructor said it was probably a good thing and that maybe the Gargantuan cyst had burst.
I absolutely tortured myself by bending it down to prove that the “bone” was still there. He offered to get ice, but I didn’t want to look like a baby. Plus there wasn’t a very captive audience (like my husband or my mom) to make it worthwhile. And within a few minutes the pain was back to the same dull ache I’m used to during a normal workout.
The hour went by fast. The soreness lasted almost a week. But the laughs and memories are still with us every time we talk about it. Sometimes we laugh about it and one of us will say, “Imagine how boring that birthday would have been if we had gotten you that garden statue you wanted…”